Thursday, June 14, 2018

Truth and Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelites and the Old Masters

Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA
June 30, 2018 – Sep 30, 2018

“This exhibition is a remarkable curatorial accomplishment,” says Max Hollein, Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums. “Never before have extraordinary masterpieces such as

Botticelli’s Idealized Portrait of a Lady (Simonetta Vespucci) (1475, Städel Museum, Frankfurt)
Botticelli’s Idealized Portrait of a Lady (Simonetta Vespucci),

Raffaello Sanzio.jpg

Raphael’s Self Portrait,

Van Eyck’s The Annunciation (ca. 1434/1436, National Gallery, Washington, DC
and Van Eyck’s The Annunciation

been displayed with Pre-Raphaelite treasures


John Everett Millais,Mariana.1851, Tate, London
including Mariana by John Everett Millais,

William Holman Hunt (English,1827-1905)
The Lady of Shalott, c.1890 - 1905
Oil on canvas, 74 1/4 x 57 5/8 in.
The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund,1961.470
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT

The Lady of Shalott by William Holman Hunt,


and Bocca Baciata by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Loans from major museum collections in Australia, Austria, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere in the United States have been gathered to explore how the renegade Pre-Raphaelites, represented by their most beloved works, engaged with the art of the past. The subject of how artists relate to their predecessors is eternal and one that still very visibly consumes artists of our own time.”

In 1848—a year of political revolution across Europe—seven young Englishmen with aspirations to rebel against the art world formed a secret artistic alliance. Calling themselves the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, the artists—including William Holman Hunt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and John Everett Millais—opposed the Royal Academy of Art’s prevailing aesthetic tenets embodied by its first president, Sir Joshua Reynolds, whom they christened “Sir Sloshua.”

They appropriated the mandate that artists should seek truth in nature, “rejecting nothing, selecting nothing, and scorning nothing.”

“The Pre-Raphaelites were deeply concerned with and inspired by their predecessors, but the name they chose for their brotherhood is a complicated misnomer,” says Melissa Buron, Director of the Art Division at the Fine Arts Museums and the exhibition’s curator. “In their first phase, the Pre-Raphaelites renounced the idealized figures depicted by High Renaissance painters who were followers of Raphael (the “Raphaelites”), esteeming early Italian artists instead. As they matured, they also emulated Raphael, and even later artists such as the sixteenth-century Venetian painter, Veronese.”

Although the Pre-Raphaelites’ initial style ostensibly rejected the aesthetics of Raphael, his followers, and the Baroque artists, these parameters fluctuated over the course of each artist’s career. Examples from Rossetti’s mature period, such as

Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Monna Vanna.jpg

Monna Vanna (1866, Tate, London)

 Veronica Veronese DAM.jpg

and Veronica Veronese (1872, Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington),

included in the exhibition, are perhaps the most evocative of this development.

These sumptuous paintings reveal a surprising shift in the appreciation for the Italian Renaissance, particularly sixteenth-century Venetian paintings.

Truth and Beauty will also trace the Brotherhood through the nineteenth-century “rediscovery” of Botticelli by English art critics and artists, which paralleled efforts by the second-generation Pre-Raphaelites to revive tempera painting techniques and materials.

John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, "Love and the Maiden," 1877.  Oil, old paint and gold leaf on canvas, 54 x 79 in.  (137.2 x 200.7 cm).  Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, European Art Trust Fund, Grover A.  Magnin Bequest Fund and Dorothy Spreckels Munn Bequest Fund, 2002.176

John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, "Love and the Maiden," 1877. Oil, old paint and gold leaf on canvas, 54 x 79 in. (137.2 x 200.7 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, European Art Trust Fund, Grover A. Magnin Bequest Fund and Dorothy Spreckels Munn Bequest Fund, 2002.176

The Fine Arts Museums’ masterpiece Love and the Maiden (1877) by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, painted in Florence, reflects the influence of the artist’s travels in Italy, and will be displayed near Botticelli’s Idealized Portrait of a Lady (Simonetta Vespucci) (1475, Städel Museum, Frankfurt). Six paintings by Botticelli will be on view—the most ever assembled for an exhibition on the West Coast.

Yet the Pre-Raphaelites’ sources of inspiration extended beyond the Italian old masters. Their subjects’ angular postures, the inclusion of symbolic details, and the jewel-toned color palettes of their paintings also emulated early Netherlandish artists, including Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling, whose panels Rossetti and Holman Hunt admired in Bruges on an 1849 “Pre-Raphaelite pilgrimage.”

This exhibition marks the first time that these iconic artworks—including Van Eyck’s The Annunciation (ca. 1434/1436, National Gallery, Washington, DC) and Millais’ dazzling Mariana (1851, Tate, London)—will be on view for West Coast audiences.

More than 30 paintings will be on loan from 25 private collections and museums including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the National Gallery, London; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. The Pre-Raphaelites’ attraction to their artistic forebears was not just in painting; Truth and Beauty will also feature books, furniture, illuminated manuscripts, stained glass, tapestries, textiles, and works on paper. These multimedia arrangements will highlight the nuanced paradoxes of the Pre-Raphaelite mission, namely their efforts to be fundamentally modern by emulating the past, as well as their dichotomous criticism and veneration of Raphael and his artistic impact.

Truth and Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelites and the Old Masters is organized by Melissa Buron, Director of the Art Division at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.


This dazzling book examines the inspiration behind the work of the Pre-Raphaelites and offers comparisons between the radical 19th-century artists and the masterworks they revered.

Started in the early 19th century by a group of British painters who rejected the sovereignty of the Royal Academy, the Pre-Raphaelites embraced the natural world and bright colors--as opposed to the dark palettes and amorphous lines that emerged in the wake of the Renaissance. Their mission was to be fundamentally modern by emulating the past. Now readers can appreciate their achievements in this volume that offers side-by-side comparisons of 19th-century masterpieces with the 15th- and 16th-century Early Italian and Early Netherlandish paintings that inspired them.

Veronese (1528-1588), Lucretia, ca. 1580-1583. Oil on canvas, 42⅞ x 35⅝ inches. Gemälderie of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (1561). Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Exquisite reproductions of works by Giotto, Fra Angelico, van Eyck, Botticelli, Titian, Veronese, and Raphael are presented alongside examples by William Holman Hunt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and others. The book traces the evolution of the Pre-Raphaelites, and details how these painters were exposed to the early masters as they traveled and encountered the finest European collections.

The volume also features decorative arts, including stained glass and tapestries in emulation of Flemish and French textiles as well as "medievalized" ecclesiastic decorations. The result is an illuminating examination that delves into the Pre-Raphaelites' aesthetic vocabulary and broadens our understanding of their motives and inspiration.

Treasures of British Art 1400–2000: The Berger Collection

Joslyn Art Museum 
June 2 through September 9, 2018

Treasures of British Art 1400–2000: The Berger Collection presents a rare opportunity to view one of the most important collections of British art in America. The paintings in this exhibition tell the complex history of Great Britain and how matters such as religious conflict, the rise and fall of the monarchy, industrialization, trade expansion, colonialism, and European influences shaped British artistic identity. With such a breadth of historical material and a diverse representation of subject matter, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this remarkable exhibition. Treasures of British Art 1400–2000: The Berger Collection is organized by the Denver Art Museum.

The exhibition is made possible by the Berger Collection Educational Trust. Treasures of British Art opens to the public at Joslyn Art Museum on Saturday, June 2, and continues through Sunday, September 9.  About the Berger Collection Beginning in the mid-1990s, mutual fund fi nancier William M.B. Berger and his wi fe, Bernadette, set out to assemble a collection of British art that would reflect the historical and cultural significance of Great Britain.

In the course of three years, they amassed over 200 works dating from the mid-14th ce ntury to the present day, providing a remarkable survey of the development of art in Britain. In 1999, the Bergers created The Berger Collection Educational Trust and placed their vast collection on long-term loan to the Denver Art Museum (DAM), transforming the institution's holdings of European painting.

In recent months, the Trust has gifted 65 paintings from the collection to DAM. Treasures of British Art showcases 50 masterworks from this unique collection, many of them part of the gift to DAM, charti ng the course of British painting over six centuries. The diverse selection includes religious works, history paintings, portraiture, landscapes, and sporting scenes by both famous and less well-known artists, including Anthony van Dyck, Thomas Gainsborough, Benjamin West, Angelica Kauffman, John Singer Sargent, and James McNeill Whistler, among others.

Selected highlights:


Already in the eighteenth century, in creasing numbers of British artists traveled abroad to explore foreign landscapes and new subject matter. As part of the Grand Tour, Rome was the ultimate destination for artists seeking to experience the riches of antiquity and the Renaissance first hand. Over the course of the 19 th century, rising imperialism and exploration resulted in travel to more distant locations such as the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia.

Scottish artist David Roberts toured Spain, Morocco, Egypt, and the Near East, producing extensive topographical views of the locations he visited. He painted this landscape following a visit to Italy in 1853, the final stop on his travels before returning to London that same year. Although many of Roberts’ views are topographically correct, this image of St. Peter’s Basilica, in which much of the bustling city of Rome is omitted, is the result of the artist ’s rich imagination.

Sporting Art 

From the 17th to 19th century, sporting scenes — representations of rural pastimes like hunting, games, and horseraces — were a distinguishing feature of British artistic identity. Horses became enormously pop ular among aristocratic sportsmen who commissioned portraits of their prized animals.

Although largely self-taught, George Stubbs is considered one of Britain’s greatest horse painters for his ability to combine rigorous anatomical accuracy with sensitive observation of his subjects. This painting depicts a majestic bay hunter, an ideal horse for hunting across open country, standing before a gently receding landscape.


When Henry VIII broke with the Roman Catholic Church and established the Church of England in 1534, religious images that had once been regarded as instruments of devotion became suspect for their potential to be used as idols and were subs equently removed from churches and monasteries.

Out of more than 30,000 lost altarpieces, this stunning panel is among the few to have survived the widespread destruction of such imagery during the English Reformation. This painting of Christ’s crucifixion is one of the most important objects in the Berger Collection and is currently the best- preserved religious panel painting of its period in existence. William M.B. Berger considered it the linchpin of his collection and faced fierce competition on the market when he purchased it in 1997.  


When the patronage of re ligious art decreased dram atically because of the emergence of Protestantism, secular subject matter, including portraiture, increased in popularity among the royal court and aristocracy.

Foreign artists with international reputations were most popular for such commissions and consequently immigrated to England to work for the crown, exercising enormous influence on the development of the visual arts in Britain. Flemish artist Anthony van Dyck arrived in London in the early 17th century and is credited with revolutionizing the British portrait tradition.

As court painter to Charles I (reigned 1625 to 1649), Van Dyck portrayed his subjects with the elegance and virtuosity of Italian Renaissance painters, providing prestige and distinction to court cult ure of the period. In this  work, the widowed Lady Dacre holds a double-headed rose that signifies both lost and future love in the fading and blooming blossoms.  Modern Art The social and technological advances of the la te 19th and early 20th centuries as well as two world wars compelled artists to address the comp exities of the modern world, resulting in a profusion of artistic styles and expressive concerns.

Influenced by French artistic achievements of the period, specifically the Neo-Impressionist technique known as pointillism, Claude Francis Barry focused on shimmering cityscapes illuminated by fireworks. This painting represents the celebration held in London on July 19, 1919, to commemorate the end of World War I.  Employing small dots of color, Barry featured the spectacular fireworks display over the important London landmarks of Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Bridge.

Benjamin West (1738–1820), Queen Charlotte, ca. 1776, oil on canvas, The Berger Collection at the Denver Art Museum, TL-19057; (

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David Roberts (1796–1864), St. Peter’s, Looking Back on Rome, 1855, oil on canvas, Gift of the Berger Collection Educational Fund, 2018.17;

George Stubbs, "A Saddled Bay Hunter," 1786

George Stubbs (1724–1806), A Saddled Bay Hunter, 1786, oil on panel, Promised Gift of the Berger Collection Educational Fund, TL-18021;

British School, The Crucifixion, ca. 1395, tempera and oil with gilded tin relief on oak panel, Promised Gift of the Berger Collection Educational Fund, TL-18011;

Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641), Dorothy, Lady Dacre, ca. 1633, oil on canvas, Promised Gift of the Berger Collection Educational Fund, TL-18887;

Sir Thomas Lawrence, PRA, Portrait of a Lady, ca. early 1790s. Oil on paper mounted on canvas; 30 x 25 in. (76 x 63.5 cm). The Berger Collection.

Sir Claude Francis Barry (1883– 1970), Victory Celebrations, 1919, oil on canvas, The Berger Collection at the Denver Art Museum, TL-24828, Reproduced by kind permission of Amyl Holdings SA, owners of the worldwide copyright to the works of Sir Claude Francis Barry, Bart. 1883–1970

Adam Birtwistle, David Hockney, RA, 2002. Tempera and gouache on linen paper, 43-1/2 x 45-1/2 in. The Berger Collection. © Adam Birtwistle Robert Travers Works of Art Ltd, Piano Nobile, London.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

June 3, 2018–September 16, 2018 

National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
October 14, 2018–January 20, 2019

Displaying exquisite designs, technical virtuosity, and sumptuous color, chiaroscuro woodcuts are among the most striking prints of the Renaissance. First introduced in Italy around 1516, the chiaroscuro woodcut, which involves printing an image from two or more woodblocks inked in different hues, was one of the most successful early forays into color printing in Europe. Taking its name from the Italian for “light” (chiaro) and “shade” (scuro), the technique creates the illusion of depth through tonal contrasts.

Over the course of the century, the chiaroscuro woodcut underwent sophisticated technical advancements in the hands of talented printmakers such as Ugo da Carpi, Antonio da Trento, Niccolò Vicentino, Nicolò Boldrini, and Andrea Andreani, and engaged some of the most celebrated painters of the time, including Titian, Raphael, and Parmigianino. The medium evolved in format, scale, and subject, testifying to the vital interest of artists and collectors in the range of aesthetic possibilities it offered.

For this first major presentation of the subject in the United States, some 100 rare chiaroscuro woodcuts will be brought together alongside related drawings, engravings, and sculpture. With its accompanying scholarly catalogue, The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy explores the materials and means of its production, offering a fresh perspective on the remarkable art of the chiaroscuro woodcut.

Niccolò Vicentino, after Pordenone, Saturn, c. 1540s, chiaroscuro woodcut from 4 blocks in taupe, medium blue-gray, dark blue-gray, and black, state i/iii, 12 5/8 × 17 1/4 in., The British Museum, London, 1858,0417.1577, photo © 2018 The Trustees of the British Museum.

Nicolò Boldrini, after Raphael
Hercules and the Nemean Lion
c. 1566
chiaroscuro woodcut printed from two blocks in tan and black ink on buff laid paper

National Gallery of Art
sheet: 29.6 × 41.3 cm (11 5/8 × 16 1/4 in.)
mount: 37 × 48.2 cm (14 9/16 × 19 in.)
Passavant, no. 18
Pepita Milmore Memorial Fund

John Baptist Jackson after Titian
The Virgin in Clouds and Six Saints
chiaroscuro woodcut in black [trial proof of line block]
National Gallery of Art
Kainen 1962, no. 26, State (trial proof of line block)
Rosenwald Collection
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy , the first major exhibition on the subject in the United States. Organized by LACMA in association with the National Gallery of Art  Washington, this groundbreaking show brings together some 100 rare and seldom - exhibited chiaroscuro woodcuts alongside related drawings, engravings, and sculpture, selected from 19 museum collections. 

With its accompanying scholarly catalogue, the exhibition explores the creative and technical history of this innovative, early color printmaking technique, offering the most comprehensive study on the remarkable art of the chiaroscuro woodcut. 

 Displaying exquisite designs, technical virtuosity, and sumptuous colo r, chiaroscuro woodcuts are among the most visually arresting and beautiful prints of the Renaissance. First introduced in Italy around 1516, the chiaroscuro woodcut was the most successful early foray into color printing in Europe. Taking its name from the Italian terms for “light” ( chiaro ) and “ dark ” ( scuro ), the technique involves printing an image from two or more woodblocks inked in different hues, employing tonal contrasts to create three - dimensional effects . 

A distinctive characteristic of the tech nique was the ability to print the same image in a variety of palettes. Over the course of the century, the chiaroscuro woodcut engaged some of the most celebrated painters and draftsmen of the time, including Titian, Raphael, and Parmigianino , and underwent sophisticated technical advancements in the hands of talented printmakers active throughout the Italian peninsula. 

The medium evolved in subject, format, and scale, testifying to the vital fascination among artists and collectors in the ran ge of aesthetic possibilities it offered. Embraced as a means of disseminating designs and appreciated as works of art in their own right, these novel prints exemplify the rich imagery and technical innovation of the Italian Renaissance. 

The Chiaroscuro Woodcut is organized chronologically , exploring the contributions of the major Italian workshop s to chart the technique ’s development through the 16 th century . 

It begins with Ugo da Carpi, the Italian progenitor of the technique, and his work in Venice and Rome (c. 1516 – 27 ). 

It continues to the workshops of Parmigianino in Bologna (1527 – 30); Niccolò Vicentino (c. 1540s); Domenico Beccafumi in Siena (c. 1540s); the dissemination of the technique in smaller workshops throughout the Italian peninsula (c. 1530s – 80s); and concludes with Andrea Andreani in Florence, Siena, and Mantua (c. 1580s – 1610). 
Ugo da Carpi
In 1516, Ugo claimed he had discovered a “new method of printing in chiaro et scuro [ light and dark ], ” and applied for a privilege from the Venetian Senate that would protect the process against copyists. Although Northern European artists had developed the technique a decade earlier, this hardly diminishes the significance of Ugo’s contribution to the medium , which was to become mo st widely practiced in Italy. 
Through his technical proficiency and distinguished associations with Titian in Venice and Raphael in Rome, Ugo created chiaroscuro woodcuts of remarkable aesthetic sophistication and forged a new market for these prints. Within a brief period, he advanced the technique from a basic two - block linear mode
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Ugo da Carpi, after Raphael or Giulio Romano, Hercules and the Nemean Lion, c. 1517–18, chiaroscuro woodcut from 2 blocks in blue and black, 11 3/4 × 8 5/8 in., The British Museum, London, 1920,0420.20, photo © 2018 The Trustees of the British Museum

 (Hercules and the Nemean Lion, after Raphael or Giulio Romano, c. 1517 – 18), to a more complex tonal approach using as many as four blocks 
A man (Aeneas) walking to right, his father (Anchises) on his shoulders carrying the household gods, including Athena, a nude boy walking behind and holding onto the man's skirts, burning buildings beyond; after the woodcut by Ugo da Carpi adapted from the fresco by Raphael's workshop, known as 'The Fire in the Borgo' (Vatican).  1722 Chiaroscuro woodcut printed in ochre over a base of etching with mezzotint shading

(Aeneas and Anchises, after Raphael, 1518). 
Ugo occasionally collaborated directly with a designer. 
St Jerome in the desert seated facing left, after Titian  Chiaroscuro woodcut with two blocks in green

His Saint Jerome, c. 1516, transmits the vitality of Titian’s energetic draftsmanship, which may have been laid down by the artist onto the block or transferred from a drawing. 

Hercules and Antaeus

Hercules and Antaeus

Artist: Ugo da Carpi (Italian, Carpi ca. 1480–1532 Bologna)
Artist: After Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio or Santi) (Italian, Urbino 1483–1520 Rome)
Date: 1510–30
Medium: Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from two blocks in green-blue and black ink
Dimensions: Sheet: 11 15/16 x 8 7/8 in. (30.3 x 22.6 cm)
Classification: Prints
Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1922
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession Number: 22.67.80

 Hercules holding Antaeus by the waist and lifting him off his feet, Marcantonio Raimondi (Italian, Argini (?) ca. 1480–before 1534 Bologna (?)), Engraving

Hercules holding Antaeus by the waist and lifting him off his feet

Marcantonio Raimondi (Italian, Argini (?) ca. 1480–before 1534 Bologna (?))
After Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio or Santi) (Italian, Urbino 1483–1520 Rome)
or Giulio Romano (Italian, Rome 1499?–1546 Mantua)
ca. 1520–22
12 1/16 x 8 3/8 in. (30.6 x 21.2 cm)
Credit Line:
The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1949
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession Number:
But he also worked independently, availing himself of engravings as models for his chiaroscuros ( Ugo da Carpi, after Marcantonio Raimondi, Hercules and Antaeus , c. 1517 – 18 , and Marcantonio Raimondi, after Raphael, Hercules and Antaeus, engraving, c. 1517 – 18). While Ugo did not conceive his own designs, he performed or closely supervised all other aspects of production. His pioneering works, characterized by an admirable refinement of cutting, ink preparation, and printing, set the foundation for the technique’s efflorescence in Italy through the Renaissance. 

Francesco Mazzola, called Parmigianino

The painter Francesco Mazzola, called Parmigianino, demonstrated a keen appreciation for prints as a means of disseminating inventions and expressin g be autiful draftsmanship. While his printmaking ventures began in Rome around 1526 , his investment in the practice deepened in Bologna, where he resettled in 1527 (following the sack of Rome ) until his return to his native Parma in 1530. There, he produced his own etchings and began his engagement with chiaroscuro. The chiaroscuro woodcuts issued from Parmigianino’s Bolognese shop match the painter’s graceful draftsmanship with skilled cutting, fine inks, and exacting printing, revealing the intimacy of his collaboration with his two cutters, Ugo da Carpi and Antonio da Trento. 

 The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy

 Ugo da Carpi after Francesco Parmigianino, Diogenes, c. 1527, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of Philippa Calnan in memory of her mother Matilda Loeser Calnan, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

Ugo’s masterwork Diogenes, after Parmigianino, (c. 1527 – 30) , an unparalleled achievement in the history of the technique , dates to this period. It depicts the Greek philosopher Diogenes seated before the barrel he made his home with a plucked chicken to the right, which allude s to his mockery of Plato’s description of man as a species of featherless biped . 

Working closely with Parmigianino, Ugo orchestrated the designs of four interdependent and overlapping blocks to model the dynamic figure, capture the fluid movement of his drapery, and render the distinctive texture of the fowl’s exposed skin . 

In contrast to Ugo’s painterly approach, Antonio’s refined cutting of supple, calligraphic strokes, witnessed in Nude Man Seen from Behind (Narcissus) , after Parmigianino, (c. 1527 – 30), sensitively transmits Parmigianino’s fluent drawing hand.  (see below)

Impressions printed in different palettes demonstrate how changes in color not only alter tonal relationships, but equally affect the mood and treatment of a subject. examines the chiaroscuros of the most prolific Renaissance workshop. 


While little biographic information is known about Vicentino, his name implies origins in the Veneto, and Giorgio Vasari (the 16 th - century artists’ biographer ) placed his activity after Parmigianino’s death in 1540. 

Although some uncertainty has surrounded the attribution of many of Vicentino’s unsigned prints, study of cutting techniques , printing characteristics, and publishing histories provides new grounds for establishing his workshop’s oeuvre. 

Most of his chiaroscuros were modeled on Italian designs from the mid - 1510s to the late 1530s, primarily ones by Parmigianino 


( Circe Drinking [ Circella ] , after Parmigianino, c. 1540s )
and Raphael (attributed to Raphael, Miraculous Draught of Fishes, c. 1514 , and 

 The Miraculous Draught of Fishes

Attributed to Niccolò Vicentino (fl. c.1530–50) after Raphael (1483–1520)

The Miraculous Draught of Fishes c.1540

Chiaroscuro woodcut, printed from three blocks | 25.5 x 36.6 cm | RCIN 853019

Vicentino, Miraculous Draught of Fishes, after Raphael, c. 1540s ). 

However, as Vicentino commonly worked from drawings independently of their creators, the chronology of his output remains unclear. Vicentino’s workshop introduced strikingly bold, saturated colors to the Italian chiaroscuro woodcut as evidenced in multiple impressions of Saturn, after Pordenone, c. 1540s, and its production prioritized expediency, pointing to the technique ’s increased commercialization. The substantial survival of impressions in diverse palettes testifies at once to the success of Vicentino’s practice and to the broadening audience for Italian chiaroscuro woodcuts. 

Domenico Beccafumi

The foremost artistic personality of his native Siena, Beccafumi was charged with many of the city’s most prestigious commissions for paintings, marble inlay designs, and sculpture. He turned to printmaking late in his life, producing nine pure chiaroscuro woodcuts and six engravings printed with tonal woodblocks. Among Italian chiaroscurists, he is unique for having designed and cut his own blocks, and his prints are immediate, spirited expressions of his remarkable vision. The artist probed the possibilities of the chiaroscuro process at each stage of production. He used unconventional tools for cutting, resorted occasionally to printing by hand, and exploited fully the technique’s inherent potential for variation, changing the manner he inked and printed his blocks . 

Among his most mature works are his closely related  

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Apostle with a Book  

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and Saint Philip ( both c. 1540s) , which are striking for their ambitious scale, bold palette, and palpably energetic cutting that assert the material of the wood  Like his paintings and drawings, his prints display his fertile invention, bold draftsmanship, and fluent expression of dramatic chiaroscuro. reveals how, alongside the major practitioners, other Italian painters and printmakers also explored the chiaroscuro woodcut to great creative ends. The designs of Titian, Raphael and his circle, and Parmigianino, which were vital to the development of the technique, continued to be important sources through the middle of the century. 

However, as enthusiasm for the novel technique spread to new artistic centers throughout the peninsula, different styles and manners were espoused. Notably, the painters Antonio Campi, Federico Barocci, and Marco Pino (Giovanni Gallo, after Marco Pino, Holy Family with the Infant Saint John the Baptist , 1570s – 80s ) introduced the technique to Cremona, Urbino, and Naples, cities that were not major print publishing centers. 

Nicolò Boldrini

Moreover, the introduction of new subjects, including landscape and genre by printmakers such as Nicolò Boldrini, discloses a continued ambition to innovate. Boldrini ’s magnificent Tree with Two Goats, late 1560s, is the only treatment of pure landscape in Italian chiaroscuro  Production in these smaller workshops, often by artists and printmakers who engaged only occasionally with the technique, was generally limited in numbers. 

Yet despite more episodic and attenuated production , the appreciation for chiaroscuro woodcuts was undoubtedly sustained through these decades. Crucially, as the century advanced, the great variety of prints that became available elicited critical standards in their appreciation among an ever more discerning audience. 

Andrea Andreani 

In a career spanning three decades, printmaker Andrea Andreani produced some 35 chiaroscuro woodcuts. He primarily took up the designs of artists in the various centers of his activity — namely Florence, Siena, and his native Mantua — working with esteemed living artists and adopting the inventions of great masters of earlier generations. 

This section explores the printmaker who displayed a remarkable talent for establishing artistic connections and cultivating the favor of an elite local patronage. 

Andreani always acted as his own publisher, and his output appears aimed principally at high - end collectors and art connoisseurs. Andreani brought great ambition to the medium, quickly becoming its most accomplished practitioner of late century. Notably, he produced the first chiaroscuro woodcuts in Italy composed from two or more sheets from multiple sets of blocks. These prints achieve a grand pictorial scale that rivals the impact of painting, signaling an important shift in function and taste. 

Andrea Andreani, after Giovanni Fortuna (?), A Skull , c. 1588, chiaroscuro woodcut from 5 blocks in light brown, light gray, medium gray, dark gray, and black, The British Museum, London, 1861,0518.199, photo © 2018 The Trustees of the British Museum 

Andreani also broadened the scope of subjects (for example, A Skull , after Giovanni Fortuna (?), c. 1588 , a compositionally sparse but technically complex chiaroscuro that is a vivid reminder of human mortality); moreover, he looked beyond traditional graphic sources for his models, including works of sculpture, bronze reliefs, and marble intarsia. 

Three different views of 

The Rape of the Sabine Women
(153) By Giambologna.
Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence.

Giambologna’s famous Florentine marble sculpture, Rape of a Sabine, were both Andreani’s first chiaroscuro woodcuts as well as the earliest Italian ones to record a sculptural work 


The Rape of a Sabine. about 1584. Andrea Andreani (Italian, 1558/59–1629), After Giambologna (Jean Boulogne) (Flemish (worked in Italy), 1529–1608) ..

© Andrea Andreani, after Giambologna  Rape of a Sabine Woman, 1584  Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from four blocks, the tone blocks in brown,  44.7 x 20.9 cm  Collection Georg Baselitz  Photo Albertina, Vienna
© Andrea Andreani, after Giambologna Rape of a Sabine Woman, 1584 Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from four blocks, the tone blocks in brown, 44.7 x 20.9 cm Collection Georg Baselitz Photo Albertina, Vienna

After 1600, Andreani shifted his practice to republish the chiaroscuro woodcuts of an earlier generation of printmakers. These final years of his career were spent looking back at the chiaroscuro medium, which he himself had brought to new levels of technical and visual refin ement. A vital aspect of the scholarly research were collaborative studies by art historians, conservators, and conservation scientists that explored the materials and means of chiaroscuro production . 

The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy is the first exhibition on the subject to integrate such interdisciplinary , technical research. LACMA’s presentation features findings from the conservation and material science investigations , including examples of some of the commonly used ink colorants , recreations of the printing process, and an overview of an extensive conservation treatment endeavor. 

The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy  by Naoko Takahatake (Editor), ‎ with contributions by Jonathan Bober , Jamie Gabbarelli , Antony Griffiths , Peter Parshall , and Linda Stiber Morenus. Featuring more than 100 prints and related drawings, this book documents a decade of pioneering interdisciplinary research , combining studies from the fields of art history, conservation, and material science to present the first comprehensive assessment of the subject. Essays and entries by noted scholars trace the chiaroscuro woodcut’s creative origins , evolution , and recep tion , and provide authoritative interpretations of their materials and means of production. Brimming with full - color illustrations of rare , exquisite works, this groundbreaking study offers a fresh interpretation of these remarkable prints, which exemplify the beauty and innovation of Italian Renaissance art

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Antonio da Trento, after Parmigianino, Nude Man Seen from Behind (Narcissus) , c. 1527 – 30, chiaroscuro woodcut from 2 blocks in green and black, Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gray Collection of Engravings Fund, G7500, photo: Imaging Department © 2018 President and Fellows of Harvard College;


Antonio da Trento, after Parmigianino, Nude Man Seen from Behind (Narcissus) , c. 1527 – 30, chiaroscuro woodcut from 2 blocks in light brown and black, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Muriel a nd Philip Berman Gift, acquired from the John S. Phillips bequest of 1876 to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, with funds contributed by Muriel and Philip Berman, gifts (by exchange) of Lisa Norris Elkins, Bryant W. Langston, Samuel S. White 3rd a nd Vera White, with additional funds contributed by John Howard McFadden, Jr., Thomas Skelton Harrison, and the Philip H.and A.S.W. Rosenbach Foundation, 1985, 1985 - 52 - 556, photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art;

Friday, June 8, 2018

'Innovative Impressions': Prints by Cassatt, Degas, Pissarro

Philbrook Museum of Art,  Tulsa
Jun 10, 2018 - Sep 09, 2018

This summer, Philbrook Museum of Art, in Tulsa, presents an original exhibition celebrating the groundbreaking work of three legendary Impressionist artists: Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, and Camille Pissarro.

Featuring more than 90 prints and key paintings on loan from institutions including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the National Gallery of Art. Innovative Impressions is the first in-depth study to focus on the prints of these three artists together. It explores their remarkable graphic work and the techniques they developed through collaboration and experimentation.

The artists of the Impressionist group are known for their innovative painting methods– approaches that redefined the formal qualities as well as the subjects that were acceptable in art. Three of these innovators, Cassatt, Degas, and Pissarro, similarly expanded the boundaries of the print medium. In 1879 and 1880 they formed the most active core of a group of artists planning to create a periodical featuring their prints.

Through this collaborative effort, they challenged each other to develop a new language of printmaking whose visual and expressive potential went well beyond the traditional reproductive purpose of the medium. Indeed, the intimacy of small-scale works on paper at times spurred the artists to be even more daringly creative than they were in their paintings. Their interactions and engagement with printmaking varied over time, culminating in the 1890s, when each developed distinctive methods of introducing color into their work.

Innovative Impressions highlights the artists’ working processes by including multiple states, or versions, of several prints, allowing viewers to appreciate the experimental techniques through which the images were developed.

detail Cassatt

 Mary Cassatt

The exhibition also includes examples of Cassatt’s 1890–91 series of ten color prints–one of the most significant achievements of her career–as well as several prints that have rarely been exhibited,


Camille Pissarro

and a group of little-known monotypes by Pissarro, who was probably inspired by Degas to take up this technique.

“They were an unlikely trio of artists, from very different backgrounds,” said exhibition curator Sarah Lees. “Yet they learned from each other and from other artists in developing unusual approaches to making prints, especially when they worked together in 1879 and 1880. After their publication project fell through, they continued to keep up with each other, although sometimes their relations became more competitive than collaborative. But this exchange of ideas seems to have played a significant role in their creative processes.”

Edgar Degas:


Innovative Impressions Catalog now available at the Philbrook Museum Shop.

This hardbound, full-color edition with an illuminating essay by Philbrook curator Sarah Lees, this catalog tells the story of this stunning Philbrook-originated exhibition, the first in-depth study of Cassatt, Degas, and Pissarro together.

Christie’s Old Masters Evening Sale on 5 July

 Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), Portrait of the Artist’s Daughter Clara Serena, ca. 1623 Private collection

Christie’s will offer Portrait of Clara Serena , the Artist's Daughter by Peter Paul Rubens in the London Old Masters Evening Sale on 5 July, during Classic Week (estimate: £3 - 5 million ). 

Never intended for public display , this seminal work offers a rare glimpse into the private life of the greatest artist of the Northern Baroque. The portrait is on public view in New York until 5 May, later going on view in Hong Kong from 24 to 28 May, before being exhibited in London in the lead up to the sale . 

Henry Pettifer, Head of Old Master Paintings, Christie’s London:

 “Rubens’ paintings of his family members, freer and bolder than those of his wealthy clientele, count amongst his greate st achievements in portraiture. This spontaneous likeness of Clara Serena, his only daughter with his wife Isabella Brant , painted around the time of her untimely death at the age of twelve, is extraordinary for its intimacy and timeless appeal. Its appearance on the market this summer comes after the picture has featured in recent high profile exhibitions at the Rubenshuis in Antwerp and the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, and it is the first major work by Rubens to appear at Christie’s in London since the record breaking sale of

Seventeenth-century oil painting depicting the biblical character Lot facing his two daughters
Lot and his Daughters in July 2016”

The Portrait of Clara Serena belongs with the collection of personal portraits rendered by Rubens of his children. 

Clara Serena was the beloved first child and only daughter of the artist, with his wife Isabella Brant. Little is known about her life, beyond the few intimately rendered portraits painted by Rubens, before she passed away at the age of just twelve and a half. The identification of the present portrait stems from the sitter’s resemblance to Rubens’s drawing of her mother at the British Museum and painting of Clara Serena at a younger age, in the Liechtenstein Princely Collection .


In 2013, the Portrait of Clara Serena was deaccessioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art having been considered as by a follower of Rubens. It was only after a subsequent transformative restoration that i t was recognized again as a dazzling autograph work by Rubens, leading to its inclusion in the Rubens in Private exhibition at the Rubenshuis in 2015. More recently, the picture has been the focus of a dedicated exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh and it will be included in the forthcoming volume of the Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard by Katlijne Van der Stighelen, due for publication in 2019. 


Given the highly personal nature and unique character of this picture , it holds a special place in Rubens’s oeuvre . Unlike any other portrait by the artist , the picture is painted with the intimacy of his preparatory sketches, while the face is more focused and drawn in greater detail, emitting the great psychological compl exity of his finished portraits. The disarming directness with which Clara Serena looks at the viewer was also not typical of contemporary portrait painting, reflecting both the intimacy of the moment shared between father and daughter, and displaying the deep affection with whi ch she was seen through Rubens’ eyes. Though this picture was never intended for public display, Clara Serena’s likeness now lives on as the private memory of the most public artist of the Flemish Baroque.

Christ Presented to the People (Ecce Homo)

Christ Presented to The People (‘Ecce Homo’) is considered to be among Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn’s (1606 - 1669) most significant achievements in any medium (estimate on request : in the region of $3 - 5million ) . One of the world’s most versatile, innovative, and influential artists, Rembrandt is viewed by many as the greatest printmaker of any generation . Epitomizing an artist at the height of his powers, both artistically and technically, this extr aordinary drypoint of 1655 dates from his t hird decade as a printmaker . Executed on a monumental scale, t he present work is one of only eight known impressions of the celebrated first state of this print and is the last known example in private hands . The other seven known impressions of this state are in major museum collections : Kupferstichkabinett der Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, The British Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Ashmolean Museum, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Musée du Louvre (R othschild Collection) and the Graphische Sammlung Albertina. Offered from The Collection of the l ate Samuel Josefowitz , it is on public view at Christie’s New York until 5 May ; going on view in Hong Kong from 24 to 28 May and then in London from 15 to 28 June and 30 June to 5 July , ahead of being offered for sale during Christie’s Classic Week in London, in the Old Master s Evening Sale on 5 July . Jussi Pylkkanen, Christie’s Global President : “Sam Josefowitz was amongst the greatest Old Master Print collect ors of his generation. Sixty years of connoisseurship and enthusiasm for Rembrandt led him to create an outstanding Rembrandt collection and the eventual acquisition of this masterpiece, which is the last known example of the drypoint in private hands. This impression is a celebration of the skills of Rembrandt, the master printmaker, and Sam Josefowitz, the most scholarly and respected of collectors.” 

A masterful work, Christ Presented to The People (‘Ecce Homo’) is an extremely ambitious work, in technique, material and scale. The exceptional quality of this impression highlights Rembrandt ’s sophisticated command of drypoint, a technique which uses a sharp needle to scratch the design onto a copper plate. The rich, velvety line it creates is particularly expressive, but few really fine impressions are possible since printing flattens the tiny shards of copper (known as ‘burr’) which hold the ink. 

Impressions on exotic papers were highly prized by collectors for their rarity, and by artist s for the way they held the ink; in this work Rembrandt used oriental paper, imported from Japan at great exp ense by the East India Company. 

Global interest in the leading Old Masters continues to grow and Christie’s is proud to bring this magnificent drypoint to the open market at such an auspicious tim e. Christie’s is the market leader for works by the artist, having set the world record price at auction for Rembrandt when the oil 

 Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn - Portret van een man met de handen in de zij 1658.jpg

Portrait of a man with arms akimbo sold for £20.2 million in 2009. 

The fact that Christ Presented to The People (‘Ecce Homo’) will be offered as part of Christie’s Old Master Evening Sale is a recognition of the rarity and importance of this work.